Hey there, and welcome to the first ever edition of Sawyer’s Shred Spotlight. In case you didn’t guess, my name is Sawyer, and Mr. Rob Liz has invited me to be a weekly poster on what I know best: SHRED.
You know what I’m talking about. Insane fret-board runs at 200 BPM, electrified Bach pieces, and all of the other over the top guitar-heroics in the book. Even if you aren’t a “shred-head”, odds are you have heard of some of the big names always thrown out in the same sentence: Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, or Yngwie Malmsteen; the masters of the Golden Age of Shred. These guys are great, in fact they make up a huge chunk of my last.fm account. But there are quite a few shredders from back in the day that I feel deserve more recognition then they received. I’ll be discussing a few of these guys today, so lets get started right after the jump.
First off is Joey Tafolla. Tafolla got started off as the guitar player for the American power metal band Jag Panzer in the early 80’s. After recording Jag Panzer’s debut album, he left to sign with shred powerhouse, Shrapnel Records – alongside some of the guys mentioned before. His 1987 solo debut, Out of the Sun combined the neoclassical approach of Yngwie with a greater sense of melody and songwriting to make a great, but under-appreciated album. Check it out. (Its also interesting to note that labelmates Paul Gilbert and Tony MacAlpine make multiple appearances on Out of the Sun, with MacAlpine providing the keyboards for the entire album.)
Next up is Britian’s Dave Sharman. He got his start relatively late in the game, with his debut album 1990 coming out in the year of it’s title, which is unforate as he’d probably be much more well known had he started out earlier in the shred wave. Sharman took more of a rock based approach to his song writing, infusing anthemic riffs with super smooth and catchy licks. Here one of my personal favorites from his second album, Exit Within.
Finally is a man who I’m sure many are aware of, but I cannot say enough how grossly underappreciated he still remains to be. In my opinion, when people talk about shred, the first name mentioned should be Jason Becker. Sadly that is not the case. Becker started his career in the shred duo Cacophony on Shrapnel Records with Marty Friedman, arguably one of the greatest guitarists in his own right. The dude put out Cacophony’s debut album at 18. At 18 years old, he was already showing that he was one of the best of the best. Throw on a couple of phenomenal solo albums, and work with David Lee Roth. But at the age of 20 he was diagnosed with ALS (Think Stephen Hawking), and just a year later he wasn’t able to walk or play guitar, and eventually lost the ability to speak. He still writes music to this day, using an intricate computer program, and has had other musicians record this material. A documentary about Jason is in the works and set to be released in 2012
And here is a cut from his debut solo album, Perpetual Burn.
Thanks for reading, be sure to check out next week’s installment. And if you find that you dig this shred stuff, check out my weekly radio show Night of the Living Shred; every Friday night at 9 PM Central/10 PM Eastern – found right here.